MMS Blog

By: Mike Lynch 11/21/2019

5 Mistakes We Find in Most CNC Programs

5 Mistakes We Find in Most CNC Programs

Today’s CNCs allow great flexibility for programming, not just with syntax but with the overall structure of a program. While flexibility is usually a good thing, having too many ways of doing something often leads to reduced consistency, clarity and ease of use. This can result in serious usage mistakes. Here are the five we find most in CNC programs:

Everyone in the CNC environment must know what a given CNC program does. All programs should start with a series of documenting messages, called a program header, that provides pertinent, easily interpreted information. For instance, a program header can help setup people know who to contact if issues arise, help operators know that they are running the correct version/revision of the program and help production control people determine the program’s execution time.

Temperature-Activated Adhesive Overcomes Limits of Magnetic and Vacuum Workholding

Solutions for workholding in milling processes have involved mechanical, electrical and pneumatic engineering. Workholding technology supplier Fresmak, based in the Basque Country of Spain, says it has developed a workholding system overcoming the limitations of all of these, and the discipline it relies on is chemistry.

Those limitations on other workholding types vary from method to method. Holding a part so that all of the faces except the underside are completely accessible for milling generally rules out mechanical clamping, which obstructs the part to some extent by holding it from the sides. Magnetic workholding is an alternative: A powerful magnet can hold the part entirely from underneath. But with a magnet, the range of materials is limited because the magnet can hold only ferrous parts. Another alternative, vacuum workholding, uses negative pressure to hold the part in much the same way. The limitation here is cutting force, because the hold of the vacuum is not as great as that of a magnet or a mechanical clamp.

Can This Metal 3D Printing System Make Production Additive Manufacturing Common in Machine Shops?

If additive manufacturing (AM) is to be a solution for production — that is, not just for functional parts, but for functional parts at production quantities — then it has to play by production's rules. That means speed and cost are the important measures of success.

This is a different and plainer evaluation of the role and effectiveness of AM than this process is usually subject to. More typically, the qualification for it as the chosen production process is seen to be part designs that cannot be produced some other way — designs that leverage AM’s freedom to generate internal features of the part, intricate geometries such as lattices, and complex forms such as topology-optimized shapes. This is a limited application set. AM can’t compete for a broader portion of mainstream production applications until its speed and price justify its use over and above any geometric benefits.

Reshoring News: November 2019

The Reshoring Initiative tracks news related to the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States. Here are recent news items the Reshoring Initiative has shared:

This news originally appeared in the Reshoring Initiative’s e-newsletter, sent about six times per year. For more news like this, subscribe here.

Machining businesses mired in time-consuming traditional quoting might be surprised to learn that many of their counterparts are winning work with little more than a mouse click.

Precisely how many is anyone’s guess. However, several metalcutting companies source more than $1 million annually in this way from a single manufacturing matchmaking service: Xometry. Although these are top performers, other CNC machine shops constitute the majority of the 2,500-plus manufacturers bidding on this online platform (others include injection molders, additive manufacturing services and parts finishers). While many of the manufacturers are small, many of the parts purchasers are large. Some, like Bosch and BMW, have become investors, pouring more than $50 million into the company since May. A European expansion also has been announced. All this considered, a closer look at Xometry could be illuminating in terms of what the future of sourcing CNC machining work might look like.